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SaaS – an abbreviation for Software-as-a-service is a software distribution model that depends upon cloud computing technology. It is an online product, necessarily a web or a mobile application that users can use by paying a timely subscription fee, without having to install it on the computer or mobile. It is rapidly becoming a convenient alternative for traditional licensed software as a result of the advantages it has over the other.
SaaS applications are hosted on a given server and are distributed through the internet. The relevant data is stored centrally, the updates and maintenance are managed by the hosts centrally, and the services are generally accessible to everyone without having to install special hardware. Moreover, SaaS products are secure, reliable, save costs, accessible to all, and an effective revenue-generating model. All thanks to the top SaaS development companies around the world!
SaaS model can be adopted for several types of applications, however, the general SaaS applications that we come across are ecommerce product management applications and payment integrations, Customer relationship management software, Accounting applications, Project management applications, etc. Because of the big utility scope and the advantages SaaS applications provide, they are increasingly sought after by developers, especially those dealing with startups.
The SaaS applications that you see are distributed after they go through a research and development process, and then rigorous testing. Right from the stage when an idea pops up in an aspirant’s mind to the introduction of the application to the general public, the application follows several steps. Here we will discuss the development stages that a typical SaaS application goes through and the testing process that later ensues.
Following are the steps that would typically be followed for the development process of a SaaS application, right from the scratch.
The beginning of any product starts with an idea. The idea of providing a certain service to the public, then the USPs that would entice the customers and make the service stand out from the rest. However, it is necessary to check if the idea is compatible with the public’s needs, and will generate revenue for the necessary growth. Evaluation of the competition it faces and other financial and market-based projections are necessary as well.
After the general idea of service is finalized and the scope seems good in the market, it is time to come up with the functionalities. Features and other requirements like integration and security that would be necessary to fulfil the needs of the customer, and make their experience satisfactory. The application needs to be robust to accommodate a high number of traffic, and users.
After finalizing the application and the features that it would incorporate, it is time to start developing the application. But once the stakeholder steps into this job, cash flow begins, and with it comes to risk. Risk is supposed to be mitigated and to do that, it is crucial to come up with an application that doesn’t disappoint the users. A minimum viable product helps with this purpose by bringing forward a basic version of the application with all the necessary features. Later on, with essential feedback and research, new features and upgrades can be installed or altered. This saves costs and reduces the risk considerably.
Choosing the pricing model is crucial, as it decides the generation of revenue and influences the mindset of users and hence the traffic. There are several models that one can choose from- usage-based pricing model, where price depends on the amount of usage. Different features can be priced differently; this feature is called- pricing per feature. Freemium is where the usage is free of charge unless an upgrade is required. Pricing per user is a model when the price is charged per user that uses the service, and when there is one rate for the entire product, to be paid timely, the model is a flat-rate pricing model.
Technical aspects are the programming related aspects that one needs to take care of during the application’s development. Programming professionals decide the aspects such as the programming language, frameworks, tools, and platforms that would yield the appropriate product as soon as possible. It is necessary to consult with the programming team to make sure the technical choices favour the MVP and the application in the long run.
After figuring out all the details about the requirements, MVP, and the technical aspects, it is time to bring together a team that would be comfortable in taking up such a project. A team can be brought together in a company out of its own employees, or a team can be outsourced from other development companies. A team can save costs if the team is highly efficient, whereas an outsourced team provides several plans and would allow the stakeholders to focus on other business aspects.
Budget allocation is essential for the development of a SaaS application. Here, a lot of aspects of development need to be taken into consideration. If we are specifically considering the technical development of the application, we need to consider the cost of the use of the resources, labour costs, rental costs, and certain other miscellaneous costs. Careful calculation of the budget considering the worst-case scenarios is important. It would be disastrous if the project gets stranded with the money depleted.
The above seven steps constitute a general development process for a SaaS-based application. However, it is not sufficient to just get an application developed to be able to introduce the app to the users. Testing the application for faults, bugs, and errors is quite important to let the application climb the ladder of success without facing a bad public reception.
We have already discussed why SaaS applications are different from other traditional applications and software programs. While traditional software works using the hardware and the memory of the user’s computer, SaaS works using a cloud environment through the web interface. The increasing competition and the usage prices make it necessary for a SaaS application to be robust, secure, and reliable to its best.
Testing for SaaS applications, therefore, differs from the testing process of a traditional application. The process of testing a SaaS application involves testing the developed application on specific relevant and on-demand platforms or web interfaces. It often involves web browser access and the methodologies revolve around the testing of web applications.
SaaS testing is best done in a cloud environment and with real traffic. Such realistic conditions make sure the application obtained after review and improvements are fit for use, secure, and reliable. Apart from the challenges we discussed, some other technical challenges need to be faced appropriately for a SaaS application. Here are those challenges.
Due to challenging environments and demanding circumstances, the developers are handed the responsibility to deliver the software as soon as possible. Such a short development cycle poses a significant challenge for the testing team as they need to keep up with such a pace. To stay with the development speed, QA teams generally follow the agile methodology and often innovate upon the same. Companies often keep up with the development pace by simultaneously testing the components with their development process.
Security is a crucial factor to be taken care of when software programs are involved in general. In SaaS applications, however, they are hosted on servers that practically remain accessible to online traffic almost all the time. Here the importance of security increases multifold. Most of the SaaS applications need integration with other applications to work and ensuring security and privacy for the customers becomes a challenge in such cases. Ensuring robust encryption and multiple testing of the network and integration under different scenarios is the way to go.
SaaS applications often allow integration with several other applications to allow a seamless working atmosphere and convenience for customers. Apart from the security challenges that these integrations pose, there are other challenges that come up. The majority of these challenges are concerned with data flow and merging. A SaaS application like Zoom can allow integration with several third-party applications, and testing different aspects of these applications under different scenarios can be tiresome. QAs can develop testing plans that validate data flow under various common circumstances.
Upgrades are an interactive way to entice customers and improve their experience of the SaaS application. New interface, new tools, and other performance-based upgrades can help bring more revenue. SaaS applications are proactive in providing these features to the users and introduce upgrades quite frequently. However, just like the testing challenges faced with a short development cycle, frequent updates pose challenges as well. Testing upgrades frequently under such time constraints make it challenging for QA teams. Automating the testing process using testing scripts helps in such cases.
Though several challenges need to be faced by the testing teams, certain practices ensure that most of these challenges are covered. After all, challenges are never-ending, the best way is to ensure that the main aspects are covered and then proceed with testing the remaining subtle parts. Here are some testing practices that are important for a SaaS application to go through.
Performance is a crucial factor for a SaaS application. It determines the capability of the application to retain customers. Performance testing for a SaaS application involves testing the application in chunks, preferably dividing the application into modules. The modules are then tested for the expected throughput and actual throughput with the workflows, checking and managing the hindrances. QA teams generally follow a checklist to go through the testing and ensure proper stability, speed, and responsiveness.
Security plays a silent, yet powerful role in the success of a SaaS application. While a secure application wouldn’t catch much attention, a security flaw could prove to be very harmful to the company. Security testing of the application ensures that the application can withstand cyber-attacks by malevolent applications and people. QA teams must develop a checklist that covers the aspects that deal with other domains, APIs, and integrations especially those concerned with payments.
A SaaS application works with web browsers and other web interfaces and therefore is easily accessible by the public. The traffic to the server can therefore fluctuate as a result of new marketing campaigns or some other factors. In such cases, the application should be capable of handling such traffic loads and keep up with the stress. While testing the load, QA teams ensure that the application can handle load and stress levels that are higher than the general capability of the application, improvements are thereby made accordingly.
Integrations play an important role in an application’s popularity. A SaaS application is generally used complementarily with other applications to accomplish a goal. For this reason, to make the process convenient, applications offer integrations. As discussed in the challenges with regards to API integrations, QA teams make sure the integrations are secure and the data flow is seamless. Test cases must be made to check the accuracy and security of the data transfer and concerning performance.
Finally, it is important to check if the application components are performing appropriately. Like any other program, SaaS applications run according to the components of the program. Unit testing involves breaking the application into modules and testing the modules for their errors and performance. This often involves checking individual pieces of code which make the process long and tedious. To make the testing viable, testing scripts that automate the testing process are implemented by the QA teams which makes sure the application is performing appropriately at the elementary level.
The prominence of SaaS applications has led to an increased indulgence of software companies in this area thereby increasing the demands and competition. To keep up with these aspects and compete in the market, proper development strategies need to be followed. Testing is a crucial part as it makes sure the application performs well in challenging circumstances. Different applications need different development and testing strategies for a firm output, however, the above methodologies generally encompass most of them.